State of the Net for the Week of November 17

Yvette Miller ⬥ 17 November

ICANN 51 wrapped up without any concrete steps towards resolution on the release of two-character second-level domains (SLD) in new generic top-level domains (gTLDs) – for example, permutations such as <fw.FAIRWINDS>, where “fw” is the SLD and “FAIRWINDS” is the gTLD. However, last week, ICANN announced that gTLD owners will no longer be required to reserve certain two-character SLDs (those containing a letter and a number or two numbers) and that there will soon be a clear, simplified, efficient process for all gTLDs to release two-letter domain names. With the current draft of the simplified process, applicants can expect to:

  1. Submit a request to ICANN to release one or more letter/letter two-character labels,
  2. Have their request reviewed by ICANN, after which it will be posted for a 30-day comment period (ICANN will also notify the Governmental Advisory Committee of the request and comment period), and finally,
  3. Be able to release their two-character domains if there are no “relevant and reasoned objections to the request”

ICANN also announced that owners of new gTLDs that have already completed the existing process for releasing SLDs (Registry Services Evaluation Policy, or RSEP) and had their request for the release of two-character SLDs up for a 30-day public comment period should be able to make two-character SLDs available (for use or sale) by December 1.

How does this affect brands in general?  Whether or not a brand is an applicant, the release of two-character second level domains can impact the trademark protection efforts of those companies whose brands are or can be shortened to two-characters. So, companies should consider registering any two-character domain names that could be:

  • valuable for promoting their brand, or
  • too risky to leave for others to register

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